HARD AGROUND - Wreck of the Exxon Valdez - March 24, 1989



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Anchorage Daily News
Date: 10/29/89
Day: Sunday
Edition: Final
Section: Nation
Page: A6

ANCHORAGE- Changing of the Guard A look at some of the officials in and around Alyeska and their recent job movements. ALYESKA

George N. Nelson

Alyeska's president since 1985, Nelson retired on Oct. 1, and moved to Bellingham, Wash., where he plans to run a landscaping business with his family. Nelson headed Alyeska during a period of increasing criticism of the company's environmental practices and steppedup scrutiny by state and federal regulators. He was replaced as president by James Hermiller, a British Petroleum executive from Cleveland.

John Ratterman

Ratterman, who retired this summer after 19 years, was Alyeska's chief spokesman. He left the company with no immediate plans and was temporarily replaced by George Jurkowich, a top British Petroleum public relations specialist from Cleveland.

Tom Brennan

Hired by Alyeska in April 1988 to improve the company's press relations, Brennan left Sept. 1, saying he was tired of dealing with the media. Alyeska is seeking a replacement for Brennan.


Steve McCall

Commander of the Valdez office, McCall arrived in Valdez in 1985 and left in July, in the midst of the nation's worst tanker spill. He was the federal official responsible for directing early cleanup efforts.


Bill Ross

Ross was DEC commissioner from 1985 until January 1987 and oversaw the state's review of Alyeska's contingency plan. Ross says he tried to make sure Alyeska was capable of responding to a big spill, but left office before the final plan was approved. He was replaced as head of DEC when Gov. Steve Cowper took office.

Randy Bayliss

DEC's Valdez chief from 1977 to 1981, Bayliss was an outspoken critic of Alyeska's oilspill cleanup capabilities. He transferred to other jobs within DEC, then left the agency in 1988 to become a private environmental consultant.

Paul O'Brien

DEC's former oil spill program manager, O'Brien was the lead state official responsible for reviewing Alyeska's spill contingency plan. Although not satisfied with the plan, O'Brien OK'd it in June 1987, saying the state would withdraw approval anytime DEC felt Alyeska wasn't doing an adequate job. O'Brien left DEC in February and now runs the oil and hazardous waste cleanup division for the state of Washington.

Dan Lawn

Until Aug. 1, Lawn was head of DEC's Valdez office, a position he had held for seven years. He had worked for DEC in Valdez since 1977 and become the state's principal investigator of air and water pollution problems at the terminal and spill cleanup. Lawn was removed as Valdez supervisor for what his bosses said were disciplinary reasons, although environmental groups, commercial fishermen and Valdez residents said they believed DEC was bowing to pressure from Alyeska to remove Lawn. His job now entails reviewing Alyeska's new oil spill plan.

August 1970 to June 1989: A timeline of major events involving Alyeska Pipeline Co.

AUGUST 1970: Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. formed by eight major oil companies to build and operate the transAlaska pipeline and Valdez terminal. The companies were British Petroleum, Sohio, Arco, Exxon, Union, Mobil, Phillips and Amerada Hess.

JULY 1971: Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation established by the legislature primarily to oversee pipeline construction and North Slope oil development.

JUNE 1977: First Alyeska contingency plan approved.

AUGUST 1977: Shipping operations begin when the Arco Juneau leaves Valdez to deliver North Slope crude to Washington.

SEPTEMBER 1977: State tanker safety act goes into effect, giving DEC authority over oil spill response plans for Alyeska's Valdez terminal and Prince William Sound.

DECEMBER 1977: DEC field officers inspect Alyeska oil spill response equipment and find much of the promised gear missing or broken. The state takes no action.

JANUARY 1980: Tanker Prince William Sound loses power near Hinchinbrook Entrance and drifts for 17 hours, getting its engine started just in time to keep from running aground. The incident prompts DEC to require that tankers be outfitted with towing systems so tugs can hook up quickly.

SPRING 1981: Alyeska disbands its fulltime oilspill response team.

NOVEMBER 1981: Alyeska submits its new contingency plan to DEC for review.

JANUARY 1983: DEC approves Alyeska's contingency plan.

MAY 1984: DEC field officers in Valdez write a detailed memo warning that Alyeska does not have the ability to handle a big spill.

OCTOBER 1984: Alyeska conducts a practice spill that federal and state officials deem a failure.

DECEMBER 1984: DEC staffers in Valdez write another lengthy memo to DEC administrators detailing shortcomings in Alyeska's spill response program.

DECEMBER 1985: ARCO Anchorage runs aground in Puget Sound, spilling about 239,000 gallons of North Slope Crude

APRIL 1986: Tanker BT San Diego spills about 700 gallons of oil at a berth. State officials document numerous problems with the cleanup.

NOVEMBER 1986: State conducts its firstever test of Alyeska's ability to clean up a spill. DEC says Alyeska's response is barely passable. Field officers urge another drill.

JANUARY 1987: Tanker Stuyvesant, bound for Panama, spills about 600,000 gallons of North Slope oil in the Gulf of Alaska when the ship sustains a major hull crack during a storm. No environmental damage is reported.

JUNE 1987: Alyeska adds two 26foot workboats to its oil spill response fleet.

JUNE 1987: DEC approves Alyeska's contingency plan without holding another drill.

JULY 1987: Tanker Glacier Bay spills about 150,000 gallons of North Slope crude oil into Cook Inlet when it hits a rock near Nikiski.

OCTOBER 1987: Tanker Stuyvesant, for the second time in less than a year, sustains a major hull crack in a storm and spills about 600,000 gallons of North Slope crude in the Gulf of Alaska.

MAY 1988: Legislature passes new law clarifying DEC's authority to review contingency plans and inspect tankers and terminals.

MAY 1988: Alyeska orders new 12,000barrel oilstorage barge and dispersant equipment for the Valdez terminal. The company also arranges to have a helicopter on standby to help on a spill.

MAY 1988: Arco sponsors a computersimulated spill drill at Alyeska to pass on the lessons it learned from the 1985 spill in Puget Sound.

JANUARY 1989: Alyeska decides to buy a hightech, 122footlong skimmer, at a cost of $5 million. Skimmer is scheduled for delivery in August 1990.

JAN. 3, 1989: Tanker Thompson Pass leaks 70,000 gallons of crude oil into Port Valdez through a cracked hull. Oil company officials, warned of a possible hull fracture, have containment booms around the tanker and are able to corral much of the oil. Still, cleanup goes on for several weeks and costs Alyeska more than $1 million.

JAN. 16, 1989: Tanker Cove Leader spills about 2,500 gallons of crude oil into Port Valdez through a crack in the hull. Much of the oil escapes containment and washes up on beaches a few days later. The two spills focus public attention on cleanup problems and the condition of the tanker fleet.

FEBRUARY 1989: Alyeska orders a $5 million, 122foot oil skimmer, anticipating delivery in August 1990. The company also replaces four 21foot response boats and arranges to purchase thousands of feet of extra boom.

MARCH 3, 1989: Tanker Exxon Houston runs aground near Honolulu when a mooring line breaks. More than 100,000 gallons of North Slope crude spill, which hits the shoreline about 15 miles from Waikiki Beach.

MARCH 24, 1989: Tanker Exxon Valdez runs aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, spilling 11 million gallons of oil. Alyeska cleanup crews take 14 hours to get response gear to the site. Most oil escapes and reaches Prince William Sound, Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island coasts.

JUNE 1, 1989: Gov. Steve Cowper threatens to shut down the tanker terminal unless Alyeska greatly improves its spill response.

Story Index:
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